When David Duckworth joined Commercial Kitchen Parts & Service almost three decades ago after working seven years as a licensed journeyman electrician, he had no knowledge of foodservice equipment.

Fortunately, the technological advancements in the mid-’80s brought him up to speed quickly.

David-DuckworthHe was one of the first at his company to take the electric certification test administered by the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association. After almost eight years as a service technician, he was chosen as branch manager for Commercial Kitchen’s new Austin, Texas, branch. In 2008, when the company saw the need to formalize and streamline its training program, Duckworth became director of field operations, training and development.

How does current technology make servicing equipment easier?

As equipment has developed and become more technical, it provides error codes that reveal problems in advance. This means service agents are not spending as much time troubleshooting. With today’s computer error codes, it’s almost to the point where we know in advance where the trouble area is. Also, smartphone capabilities and computers have made our job easier. Apps are available, manual information is at our fingertips, and we’re able to take photos and send these instantly.

You’re a CFESA-certified gas trainer. Explain what this is and the type of training it entails.

I’m a master certified technician for gas, electric and steam. Four years ago, I took an interest in the CFESA EGS (Electric, Gas and Steam) training program. As I moved into my current role, I wanted to spread my knowledge. I had always attended training committee meetings at CFESA conferences, and then I decided to apply to a position as a certified gas trainer. It was a new challenge for me.

Talk about the importance of customer service and developing a relationship with operators.

In our training classes, we talk about customer service. I want to make sure technicians are well rounded. Learning how to deal with situations, approach customers and develop relationships — especially for someone who’s new in the business — is a learning process. For example, we emphasize keeping the work area tight and neat while staying out of the way as much as possible and keeping the customer informed on what is being done.